Be seen and heard: The art of persuasion

If ever there was a time for entrepreneurs to learn the fine art of persuasion, it is now, writes business coach and writer Lola Bailey. Business today is conducted in an environment where the question you're more likely to hear is not “What do I need to do?”, but “Why should I do this?”

Questions like this are a test of your ability to influence and persuade. The good news is that you don't have to be pushy to get what you want. Instead, you can use three key principles to persuade your listener that your suggestion, idea, proposal or request is a winning one.
  1. Credibility
  2. Engaging minds and hearts
  3. Effective communication

The three pillars of persuasiveness

1. Credibility

In a previous post in the Be seen and heard series, we revealed the formula for credibility. Credibility is the cornerstone of persuasion. Without it, your audience won’t commit time or resources to your idea...

2. Engaging minds and hearts

Reasons (minds) and emotions (hearts) are significant in how people make decisions. Decisions are invariably made emotionally first, and then justified logically. To engage minds, do the following:

- Structure your presentation effectively

Assess your audience’s likely receptivity to your proposal, and then apply one of these structures:

  • Problem-answer: use this structure for audiences who are either uninterested in, or uninformed about, the need your proposal solves.  Present an urgent need, and then present your convincing solution, supported by robust evidence (see below).
  • Presentation of two sides- refutation:  use this structure for audiences who either disagree with your proposal or are neutral towards it. First, present your opponents’ side to demonstrate your willingness to consider it. Then, refute their case by challenging their evidence. Then, present your case.
  • Cause-effect: use this one for audiences where receptivity is mixed. Present the underlying causes of a problem, and then show how your proposal eliminates those causes. Alternatively, stress the unwanted effects of the problem and explain how your proposal mitigates those effects.
  • Attention-need: this one’s for motivated audiences. Grab their attention with a startling fact or statistic - then show how your proposal satisfies the need. Help your audiences visualise a brighter future with your solution in place.

With all these structures, include a call for action - let your listeners know what you want them to do.

- Gather evidence to support your proposal

Draw on the following sources of compelling evidence:

  • Testimonials
  • Statistics
  • Real-life examples
  • Graphic representations.

- Spotlight benefits your audience values

Ask yourself:

  • What do my audiences gain from my proposal? Eg, “You will increase your response rate by 45%...”
  • What do they avoid losing?  Eg, “ You will halve your accounting costs   …”

- Use the right words

Your words can determine whether your audience listens to you.  Ensure your language is:

  • Affirmative: eg, "When you start using this software …”
  • Assertive: eg, “We will not achieve our target if …”
  • Cooperative: eg, “Let’s look at these scenarios, to see where we get to.”
  • Reflective of your integrity: eg, “This version meets your needs better than...”
To engage hearts, use these tools when presenting:
  • Metaphors: eg, “We must build better bridges  ...”
  • Analogies: eg, “Running a business is like managing a theatre operation.”
  • Vivid descriptions: eg, “Homeworking ends those frequent interruptions from office chums”.
  • Stories: eg, “When recovering in hospital, I…”

3. Effective communication

Take your persuasion to the next level by applying the tips discussed in the Five Cs of effective communication. By being credible, engaging minds and hearts and communicating effectively, your persuasiveness will improve dramatically. Lola Bailey has more than 20 years’ experience in coaching, sales and market development and writing for business. An enthusiastic champion of start-ups, she also runs ihubbusiness, an online business hub offering internet marketing advice to start-ups and small enterprises.

Be seen and heard - communication skills supported by Brother

Be seen and heard: Brother logo Be seen and heard is supported by Brother, the technology company for small and medium-sized businesses. Brother can help businesses of all sizes communicate like big enterprises with OmniJoin, the new high-end webconferencing software at a small business price. Free trials are available here.
Photo credit: Martha Soukup

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